The Honorable Chair Ann Mallek
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
401 McIntire Road Charlottesville, VA 22902
VIA HAND DELIVERY
Dear Chair Mallek,
The Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® (CAAR) has been closely following the Stormwater Utility discussion. We, perhaps better than most, fully understand the community need for stormwater infrastructure remediation, repair and replacement. REALTORS® do, however, have issue with the way Albemarle County is choosing to move forward to fund this program.
Our Code of Public Policy clearly states that we advocate “for solid, sensible environmental regulations that strike a proper balance between property owner rights and good stewardship of the environment.” It also states that “We pledge our support in the development of proposals to more equitably distribute the burden of paying for government services.”
After significant discussion within our organization, we believe the current proposed stormwater fee does not strike a proper balance between property owner rights and good stewardship and is not equitable to all property owners. The expansion of program purpose from Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) compliance to remediating stormwater infrastructure focuses many of the projects within urban areas, forcing rural landowners (95% of the county) to fund a “utility” that lacks a direct benefit.
The impervious surface calculation initially seemed to be science based, but the stormwater committee meeting on December 6, 2017 proved that it was merely a way to slice the cost pie. This concept may work well in an urban environment but fails to calculate the benefit of surrounding land. Case in point – a 5,000-foot barn in the middle of a 100-acre field would pay the same fee as a 5,000-foot urban parking lot.
We also have concerns that creating a dedicated funding source for stormwater projects will reduce the competitiveness of such projects as they exist today within the Albemarle’s Capital Improvement Plan. In addition, we have staffing concerns to implement the fee. The December 6, 2017 approved budget dedicated between $1.2 and $1.7 million annually for “Regulation and Enforcement.” We believe the hiring of GIS staff, Credit Inspectors, as well as Billing Specialists, could be completely avoided if the current funding model were maintained.
Based on the above concerns, the Charlottesville Area Association of REALTORS® is in opposition to Albemarle County’s Stormwater Fee as currently proposed.
Thank you for your service to our community.